The set up of this novel is a bit different from the first two, expounding on the monster hunting story line established in The Red Threads of Fortune. This one, however, is set up mostly in the form of letters/transcriptions of diaries/official reports.
I feel as though this mode of storytelling is particularly well suited to Yang's writing style.
In the past two books, I've struggled a bit with feeling as though certain scenes moved by in such rapid succession that I began to lose my sense of why things were taking place. It's as though I'm seeing the storyboard of the main scenes, but the connection between them is fuzzy or nonexistent.
Consolidating these scenes into letters/written accounts by the characters gave this novella a more natural flow & complimented the theme of this particular installment. There were still a couple of places that felt out of sync to me, but generally I was much happier with the construction & pacing of The Descent of Monsters.
I also felt myself much more personally involved in the story Yang chose to tell here. It presents a tighter focus on explaining the corruption of the Tensorate, which is something I've been hoping for a more thorough elaboration on since foreshadowing in the opening of The Black Tides of Heaven.
I enjoyed the new characters introduced here, and enjoyed seeing old characters make reappearances. It can be difficult to introduce new characters in a meaningful way this late into a series, but I think Yang pulls it off with style & proficiency.
And of course I can't review this title without mentioning how much I love the discussion of LGBT+ identities. In particular it's nice to see such a normalization of correct pronoun usage, even amongst enemies. Of course some enemies make no attempt, but that's a realistic portrayal of the issue. Seeing as the author is nonbinary, I think they've done a wonderful job integrating it into such a short series.
So far the series has been a handful of hits & a handful of misses for me, but I very much enjoyed this installment & I am excited for To Ascend to Godhood!
***I received a copy of The Descent of Monsters in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Tor.com and J.Y. Yang for this opportunity.***
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018